A controversial Los Angeles author attempts to revive her career and finally find true love in this hilarious nod to 1950s lesbian pulp fiction.

Having recently moved both herself and her formidable perfume bottle collection into a tiny bungalow in Los Angeles, mid-list author Astrid Dahl finds herself back in the Zoom writer’s group she cofounded, Sapphic Scribes, after an incident that leaves her and her career lightly canceled. But she temporarily forgets all that by throwing herself into a few sexy distractions—like Ivy, a grad student researching 1950s lesbian pulp who smells like metallic orchids, or her new neighbor, Penelope, who smells like patchouli.

Penelope, a painter living off Urban Outfitters settlement money, immediately ingratiates herself in Astrid’s life, bonding with her best friends and family, just as Astrid and Ivy begin to date in person. Astrid feels judged and threatened by Penelope, a responsible older vegan, but also finds her irresistibly sexy.

When Astrid receives an unexpected call from her agent with the news that actress and influencer Kat Gold wants to adapt her previous novel for TV, Astrid finally has a chance to resurrect her waning career. But the pressure causes Astrid’s worst vice to rear its head—the Patricia Highsmith, a blend of Adderall, alcohol, and cigarettes—and results in blackouts and a disturbing series of events.

Unapologetically feminine yet ribald, steamy yet hilarious, Anna Dorn has crafted an exquisite homage to the lesbian pulp of yore, reclaiming it for our internet and celebrity-obsessed world. With notes of Southern California citrus and sultry smokiness, Perfume and Pain is a satirical romp through Hollywood and lesbian melodrama.

Don't just take our word for it...

“Acerbic, steamy, and compulsively readable—fans of ribald, satirical humor (with a specific focus on celebrity melodrama and LGBTQ+ culture) will read it in one go. It’s this author’s best work yet. A Sapphic roller-coaster ride and pitch-perfect homage to lesbian pulp fiction.”
– KIRKUS, Starred Review

“Come to Perfume & Pain for the sexy drama, stay for the satire and hilarious doses of shade thrown at Hollywood. This novel is like driving down PCH listening to Lana Del Rey and vaping out the sunroof. Every moment feels sun-drenched, edgy, and unstoppable.”
– Allie Rowbottom, author of Aesthetica

“Anna Dorn’s Perfume & Pain is a wonder. Dorn masterfully takes on cancel culture, holier-than-thou writers groups, and the complex rules of lesbian dating. The result is a smart and sexy, laugh-out-loud funny page-turner.”—
– Marcy Dermanksy, author of Hurricane Girl and Very Nice

Taste the very first page

Imeet Ivy on my fading 16-inch MacBook Pro.

Ivy is the newest member of my Zoom writing group, the one I created ten years ago with some dykes I met on Tumblr, the one I stopped attending regularly when my writing career began gathering steam.

On her first day, when Ivy says she’s writing about a lesbian love triangle, I know I’m doomed. When she sends me a private message asking me my zodiac sign, it’s game over. Ivy is my type. Dark hair, glasses. Chatty but emotionally distant. Refracted attention, definitely hiding something, a sinister side behind a hesitant smile.

Guess, I reply to her query. This is a useful way to ask strangers how you come off. If they say Capricorn, they think you’re stuck up and power hungry. If they say Leo, you’re talking too much about yourself. If they say Pisces, they think you’re weak. People almost always guess me wrong. Aquarius is the rarest sign. Look it up.


Nope. I get Gemini a lot. My mind moves quickly and pivots often. Gemini is an air sign like Aquarius, but the more chaotic one. I promised myself I would stop thinking about astrology…